On Wednesday 25 January, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) will discuss the priorities of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which include promoting an active and coherent policy to counteract Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, implementing the Strategic Compass and strengthening the EU’s defence capabilities and its ability to act. To that end, the SEDE Committee will hold a debate on a draft report on EU Rapid Deployment Capacity, EU battlegroups, and Article 44 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU), which would allow the Council to entrust the implementation of a civil or military mission to a group of Member States that wish to do so.
The security and defence landscape in Europe has been rapidly changing since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last year, bringing into sharp focus the EU’s need for closer cooperation in the areas of security and defence.
Assistance to Ukraine was at the heart of the discussion at the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) that took place on 23 January. Member States are struggling to unite around key decisions about the allocation of tanks to Ukraine to support its war efforts. However, they unlocked the seventh tranche of the European Peace Facility (EPF) to further support the capabilities and resilience of the Ukrainian army by reaching a political agreement for a total of €3.6 billion. The EPF also funds the Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM), put in place by the Council in October 2022, which provides training, expertise and allocation of lethal and non-lethal equipment to the Ukrainian army.
An additional major topic of discussion has been the expected adoption of the tenth package of EU sanctions against Russia. The most recent package proposed by the European Commission was adopted by the Council on 16 December 2022 and included tighter export controls and restrictions in addition to more sanctioned individuals and adding banks to existing lists.
Council: EU support to Ukraine Military
Council: A strategic Compass for the EU
25 January: Subcommittee on Security and Defence meeting
03 February: EU-Ukraine Summit
09-10 February: Special European Council
The European Movement International position
As we argue in our new policy position on the Future of European Security and Defence Cooperation, Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine laid bare the need for the EU to take its security and defence policy into its own hands. Collective defence can help ensure peace in the continent and neighbourhood as well as contribute to peace efforts globally. The EU needs to formulate a common strategy to ensure Member States’ unity and cohesion regarding Russia. Within this context, a credible enlargement perspective in the Western Balkans, Ukraine and Moldova, is of utmost importance to strategically counter destructive external influences in Europe.
The EU has the tools to further push for its strategic autonomy in a context where energy and food shortages, security concerns and the economic impact of the war in Ukraine make it even more salient. The EU needs to show strong political will to advance its defence capabilities. To enhance its autonomy, the EU must develop a fully integrated Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) guided by PESCO and the Strategic Compass and feature integrated armed forces overseen by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
Moreover, war and the necessity to swiftly impose sanctions on Russia have shown that changes are needed in the decision-making process. There can be no further postponement of urgently needed reforms of the way the EU makes decisions. As a central recommendation stemming from the final report of the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), Member States must support citizens’ call to overcome unanimity and switch to qualified majority voting (QMV) in the areas of foreign affairs and security and defence and launch a Third Convention to reform EU’s Treaties.